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The Little Things: Gifts to Suit the Music Lover in Your Life
By Bes Nievera

With the holidays nigh, finding a present for the music-loving fanatic(s) in your life shouldn't be hard, right? If you need a small trinket or a much-desired, affordable component to round out their gear, here are several excellent staff-approved items for you to consider.

Tweaks and Accessories – Analog
For analog lovers, a replacement stylus is essential, especially if the music being played on the turntable is starting to go downhill. After all, do you really want to hear Mariah Carey singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" in a screechy voice because the needle wiped out? Music Direct is home to more than 100 phono cartridges, many with their own replacement styli. Audio-Technica's latest generation of its AT95 serves as a fine replacement for older turntables needing an audio kick in the pants, while Sumiko's Rainier and MoFi's StudioTracker bring more nuance and detail to fave tracks for just a little more cash.

Stylus cleaners are also a must-have as all styli require proper care. Ditto record-cleaning solutions for easy manual LP cleaning, or as part of a machine-based cleaning adventure. MoFi's LP and stylus cleaning bundles solve these problems at nominal cost, while similar products from Audio Intelligent and the legendary Last Factory offer equal opportunity cleaning of your stacks o' wax. For good-ol' dry record cleaning, AudioQuest's revised Anti-Static Brush stands as a long-overdue update of a previous version that had been on the market for eons. It's a perfect replacement for tired dry record brushes languishing in the cabinet or shelf. By using your own fingers as conductors, the brush's handle provides a unique electrical path to the brush fibers to neutralize static from your body's energy. Or, if you're into gadgets that clean a needle without compromise, the Flux HiFi Ultrasonic Cleaner can't be beat.

If your music lover's stylus gauge has bitten the dust, electronic gauges from Ortofon, Audio Additives, and Rega come to the rescue. Depending on your needs, you can measure stylus pressure in tenths to hundreds of a gram. Want to show your gift recipient you really understand his/her analog addiction? Strobe discs from KAB and Rega assure perfect pitch when you spin an LP, while Analogue Productions and Hi-Fi News test LPs as well as AnalogMagik Cartridge Alignment Software help with set-up finery.

Tweaks and Accessories – Digital
As high-quality digital streaming continues to skyrocket via TIDAL/MQA, Qobuz, Amazon HD, and the like, the need for DACs to achieve the requisite horsepower necessary for great performance calls for advancements in more than just the hardware. Ethernet and digital cables, not to mention USB add-ons, play critical roles in refining sonics. For example, fans of iFi Audio's compact DACs wouldn't be complete without an inexpensive accessory like iPurifier, iSilencer, or iDefender. And AudioQuest's own Dragonfly line gets lifted higher with a Jitterbug. Each device, with unique properties, does more to expose the true audio quality digital can convey while simultaneously addressing its weaknesses. Want instant improvements: Swap your stock (read: the one the cable company gave you) with Ethernet cables from Kimber, AudioQuest, Nordost, or Wireworld. Each conveys more data than you'll know.

When All Else Fails – A Music Direct Gift Certificate
Let's face it: When you need a gift in a pinch for that music lover who has everything, a Music Direct Gift Certificate is just the ticket to happiness. Available in any denomination, Gift Certificates make an excellent stocking stuffer. And they don't expire until redeemed!

Better Still, Call Us!
We're fully staffed for the holidays and ready with suggestions and bundles for your audio shopping needs. To coin a phrase, "Operators are standing by!"

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December 6, 2019

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